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Animals 2015, 5(3), 821-837; doi:10.3390/ani5030386

“Chickens Are a Lot Smarter than I Originally Thought”: Changes in Student Attitudes to Chickens Following a Chicken Training Class

1
School of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5371, Australia
2
Australian Population and Migration Research Centre, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, Australia
3
Legacy Canine Behavior & Training, Inc, Sequim, WA 98382, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 6 February 2015 / Revised: 6 July 2015 / Accepted: 17 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
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Simple Summary

Our attitudes to animals are linked to our beliefs about their cognitive abilities, such as intelligence and capacity to experience emotional states. In this study, undergraduate students were surveyed on their attitudes to chickens pre- and post- a practical class in which they learnt to clicker train chickens. Students were more likely to agree that chickens are intelligent and easy to teach tricks to, and that chickens feel emotions such as boredom, frustration and happiness, following the practical class. Similar workshops may be an effective method to improve animal training skills, and promote more positive attitudes to specific animal species.

Abstract

A practical class using clicker training of chickens to apply knowledge of how animals learn and practice skills in animal training was added to an undergraduate course. Since attitudes to animals are related to their perceived intelligence, surveys of student attitudes were completed pre- and post- the practical class, to determine if (1) the practical class changed students’ attitudes to chickens and their ability to experience affective states, and (2) any changes were related to previous contact with chickens, training experience or gender. In the post- versus pre-surveys, students agreed more that chickens are easy to teach tricks to, are intelligent, and have individual personalities and disagreed more that they are difficult to train and are slow learners. Following the class, they were more likely to believe chickens experience boredom, frustration and happiness. Females rated the intelligence and ability to experience affective states in chickens more highly than males, although there were shifts in attitude in both genders. This study demonstrated shifts in attitudes following a practical class teaching clicker training in chickens. Similar practical classes may provide an effective method of teaching animal training skills and promoting more positive attitudes to animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: clicker training; practical classes; learning theory; animal sentience; attitudes towards animals clicker training; practical classes; learning theory; animal sentience; attitudes towards animals
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hazel, S.J.; O'Dwyer, L.; Ryan, T. “Chickens Are a Lot Smarter than I Originally Thought”: Changes in Student Attitudes to Chickens Following a Chicken Training Class. Animals 2015, 5, 821-837.

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